In a match between two apparently ill-matched sides, UAE made their case worse by opting to bat first after winning the toss. The Perth pitch is regarded as the world’s fastest, where the ball can jump disconcertingly at times. Though India’s bowling attack is not considered great, it was adequate for the likes of UAE, who do not have the experience of facing quality bowling. Moreover, UAE cricket squad has been drawn from amongst the cricket-committed members of Pakistani and Indian community, naturalized as UAE citizens for the express purpose of playing cricket. For them, cricket is more a hobby sport and degree of professional seriousness does not match with regular ICC cricket playing countries. Regardless, UAE has yielded some notable performances in this World Cup. At Perth on Saturday, UAE fell prey to India’s bowlers, who were probably instructed as to how to deal with the top order batsmen. They began losing wickets from the second over onwards and by the 20th over, six batsmen had returned to their dungeons as the scoreboard showed 52/6. Shaiman Anwar, Khurram Khan and Manjula Guruge together added 59 runs and with 13 extras conceded by the Indians, the rest of UAE batting was worth just 30 runs in the final score of 102 in 32nd over. Ravichandran Ashwin was the pick of India’s bowlers as he returned with his best ODI figures of 4/25 in 10 overs and UAE fell to their lowest total in ODIs and the lowest against India in a World Cup match by any side. The target of 103 was never going to bother India and despite the loss of Shikhar Dhawan early in the chase, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli ensured India’s 9-wicket win in the 19th over.
Both UAE openers fell to well-directed bouncers from Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Umesh Yadav drew the first blood, when Andri Berenger tried to lift him off a bouncer and only managed a top edge that Dhoni gleefully held. Amjad Ali was next after attempting another hook shot, this time to a bouncer from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, he also gloved a catch to Dhoni. It was an inauspicious start for UAE and at 28/2, Dhoni introduced Ravichandran Ashwin into the attack. Ashwin proved too good for the UAE batsmen as he began by taking the wicket of Krishna Chandra with his second ball. Krishna Chandra tried to flick Ashwin on the leg side and only succeeded in gloving a catch to Raina stationed at leg-slip for this very purpose. Four overs later, Ashwin got his second wicket, when Swapnil Patil edged a catch to Dhawan at first slip. UAE’s score became 44/5 in the 17th over, when their best batsman Khurram Khan also succumbed to Ashwin’s guile. From this point onwards, the batting was left to Shaiman Anwar and his partnerships with the tail-enders. He did come up with some hefty blows but he couldn’t have lasted too long. However, UAE should consider themselves lucky to have Anwar since his 35 runs were vital to take them past 100. Finally Anwar too fell in the 32nd over, when Umesh Yadav’s express delivery uprooted his stumps. With Anwar’s wicket, UAE innings folded at 102.
India came on to play for one hour before the break and began the 103-run chase with patience rather than exploding with the bat right away. The first 4 overs could only produce 10 runs and India lost Shikhar Dhawan in the 7th. But after the break, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli played an uneventful innings without any adventurous indulgence. Sharma scored more briskly than Kohli and remained unbeaten on a 55-ball 57 that included 10 fours and a six. Kohli played a supportive role for a patient 33 off 41 balls and India routinely got past the target with 31.1 overs still remaining.
It was the third successive win for India this World Cup and their next match is against the West Indies on March 6. In the end, India missed out on surpassing their biggest World Cup c win. They had beaten Kenya in 2001 with 231 balls remaining. Nevertheless, the victory against UAE proved to be the second-biggest overall.
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